Starting down the path of dog training can be overwhelming. After only a few short weeks with my first wirehair, I was ready to throw in the towel. Hindsight being what it is, having a solid game plan is your first key to success.
Sticking to it is the second key. And finally, get the best gear you can afford that complements each step. Doing so will make training easier and more fun. Patience and staying consistent will result in a bird dog you can be proud of at home and in the field.
Following are eleven great dog training tools for 2016.
There are few things more painful than losing a remote or transmitter, but breaking one comes close. Collar Clinic is the answer to your disaster. In business since 1988, CC can make your gear good as new again, no matter how "classic" that collar.
Or if you're considering upgrading, trade your old gear for new or try one of their budget-friendly reconditioned units.
Conquest Scent Sticks | BirdDown Scents
There's an old saying: You can't make a bird dog without birds. Well, not all of us have access to training pigeons or chukars. That's where incorporating something like BirdDown scents into your training can help duplicate the real thing. Water-, saliva- and weather-resistant, these convenient sticks are an easy way to add scent to bumpers.
Dogtra | 1900S
The 1900S features a ¾-mile range and 2-hour rapid charge to get you up and running in the shortest amount of time possible. Plus, the handheld transmitter has an LCD display that shows battery life — pretty handy when a hunt lasts longer than anticipated. The set is waterproof and includes a non-stimulating pager. For a pair of dogs, opt for 1902S.
Dokkens | DeadFowl Trainers
Whether you refer to it as "force fetch" or "conditioned retrieve," taking a hunting dog through the process is no walk in the park. Deadfowl Trainers have a unique construction that helps teach proper hold. The hard, dangling head discourages shaking, plus liquid scent can be injected into the soft body for added realism.
D.T. | R.A.P.T. 1450
If its blaze orange color didn't give it away, the 1450 is an upland-specific e-collar. With an ergonomic remote that can be operated with your thumb, you can correct the dog without taking your hand of the gun. The 1450 has a 1,400-yard range, 16 stim levels, vibration and expandability.
Garmin | Alpha 100
With the ability to track up to 20 dogs (as well as the hunter) and handle them with varying stimulation levels, tone and vibrate, the Alpha is a versatile GPS/e-collar. True, trackers are geared toward pointers and hounds, but retriever guys will appreciate the ability to keep tabs on a Lab in deep cover, too.
LCS | Bird Dog Trainer
When you're knee deep in training gear, there's something to be said about simplicity. Case in point: The Bird Dog Trainer from Lion Country Supply. Not only is it a rugged, flexible collar for any dog, it also operates the Remote Backing Dog and Bird Launchers. It's a great system for getting a pointer to honor.
Proball Inc. | Go-FRR Fetch Ball
All work and no play make Jack a dull pup, so don't forget to incorporate some fun during long stretches of serious training. With a loop of surgical tubing attached to a hard rubber ball, the Go-Frrr is just as fun to launch as it is for your dog to fetch. Available in small, medium and large.
Real Duck | Dummies
No matter how soft your dog's mouth, bumpers take a beating. That's why Real Duck constructed their training dummies out of a super durable poly firehose case. Practically indestructible, they also float thanks to a granulated cork core and hold scent — toughness and features that make traditional plastic bumpers almost obsolete.
SportDog Brand | Sporthunter 825
Responsive and intuitive, the 825 has a half-mile range. Seven instantly selectable stim levels allow you to fine-tune a dog's pressure needs. It's programmable with a mode to run add-on beepers. And the vibration and tone features are great for subtlety on a hunt.
Zinger Winger | Hunt Tester G5
Compatible with remotes from SportDOG Brand, Tri-Tronics and Dogtra, the Hunt Tester G5 is the perfect tool for marked retrieves. Load it with your bird or bumper of choice, set your retriever, and then trigger the launcher from a distance.
It sends a high, visible mark that can be accompanied by the report of a .22- or .32-caliber blank.